Your firms role on the project: ARCH Design consulted on and managed several original art commissions for the newly renovated patient corridors and elevator lobby at SSM Health St. Joseph Hospital - Lake Saint Louis. The renovations were part of a larger expansion that added three floors to the existing hospital near St. Charles, MO, and for which ARCH Design also provided over 140 art pieces including both original artwork as well as custom framed prints.
Project Mission and Vision
The expansion of SSM Health St. Joseph Hospital - Lake Saint Louis not only added 84 new beds, but also transformed the campus into a welcoming, hospitality-inspired setting that enhances the patient and staff experience. The new 3-story patient tower overlooks Lake Saint Louis, which also provided the architecture firm, Lawrence Group, with inspiration for the interior design. For example, the main lobby features natural wood and ceramic finishes in soft blues, greens and neutrals that evoke the nearby lake and landscape. However, the first-floor connecting corridors remained nondescript. Therefore, Lawrence Group Principal Beth Trueblood reached out to ARCH Design to commission wayfinding artwork for the corridors based on the lake theme. At the same time, SSM Health is a Catholic healthcare system that wished to showcase its Franciscan heritage, which emphasizes the healing qualities of nature, through the art.
The wood paneled elevator lobby proved a special challenge, since nothing could be hung on the wall and the space between the wall and the elevators was too shallow for a freestanding sculpture. ARCH Design’s consultants thus proposed an unconventional tapestry of metal objects, which is hung from the ceiling. From a distance, the work resembles a cascading waterfall, and draws patients and staff down the long corridor to the lobby. Its shimmering texture evokes the lake’s surface, while its structure resembles fishing nets. With the allusion to fishing, there is the potential to interpret the piece within the framework of Christianity, but others might simply be drawn in by the individual elements that make up the whole. Indeed, upon closer inspection, one discovers fragments of Missouri maps, which artist John Garrett included per the suggestion of the ARCH art consultant to further ground this commission in its local setting.
In addition to the piece by Garrett, ARCH Design collaborated with artists on two additional lake-themed commissions for the west corridor: a pair of wood mosaic triptychs painted with a wave-like pattern and a triptych of handmade paper pieces beautifully framed in shadowboxes that likewise suggests flowing water. Overall, the distinct materials—metal, wood and handmade paper—lend a sense of warmth, animating the previously clinical spaces with a sense of the spiritual in nature.